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Young immigrants struggle to prove eligibility for reprieve

What if, under recently passed immigration law, a young immigrant qualifies to remain in the United States but will have a hard time proving eligibility? That is the plight faced by many young immigrants in New York and throughout the country.

In June, President Obama let the nation know that young, undocumented immigrants could apply for a program that offers a reprieve from deportation. To qualify, immigrants have to meet the following criteria:

  • You came to the United States before the age of 16
  • You have lived in the U.S. continuously since 2007
  • On June 15, 2012, you were younger than 31 years old and in the U.S.
  • You went to school in the U.S., or were honorably discharged from the armed forces, or received a G.E.D. certificate

Also, you would not be eligible if you have a felony or serious misdemeanor conviction on your record, or if you have been deemed a threat to national security.

The trouble for a lot of people, however, is that living as an undocumented immigrant has been just that: undocumented. Many young immigrants don't have paperwork handy showing that they meet the requirements to avoid deportation.

These individuals are now scrambling to retrace their steps. That can be difficult when previous employers aren't willing to risk legal trouble for hiring an undocumented worker, or if official records have been lost or never existed in the first place.

Applying to the program is easier for people with school transcripts, bank accounts and medical records -- those things can be proven without much effort. Young immigrants with or without such documents may need to consult with an immigration attorney to find out what options are available to avoid deportation.

Source: The New York Times, "Undocumented Life Is a Hurdle as Immigrants Seek a Reprieve," Kirk Semple, Oct. 3, 2012

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